Space Cowboys 5:

Centennial Celebrations

By Mell Eight

"But Mom!" Jim whined. His phone was on the table displaying a holographic image of Jim's frowning mother. Eric just leaned back on the couch to watch his lover try to wheedle his way out of this one.

"No buts, Jamisen! You promised your father and I that you would visit for the Builder's Day last year. And then suddenly you were working and couldn't come."

"But Mom!" Jim tried to argue again, and was again cut off by his mother.

"Jim, I am having a Builder's Day Centennial party at my house. All of your siblings and their spouses will be there. I expect that you and Eric will be joining us." Her frown deepened as she glared at her son.

"We'll be there," Eric called from the couch. "I'll drag Jim kicking and screaming, but we'll be there."

"Lovely," Jim's mother said with a sudden smile. "Bring a bowl of fruit for dessert." She hung up without waiting for a goodbye from her son.

Jim turned his betrayed glare on Eric.

"Eric!" Jim moaned. "Why do we have to go? I don't want to go!"

Eric sighed. "Jim, you've been putting off going to your mother's Builder's Day party for years. This year is the centennial anniversary of when this Colony was first put into space and I think you should enjoy being with your family on that day."

"But we were going to see the fireworks in the park," Jim whimpered. "I was going to bring chocolate whipped cream this time!"

Eric closed his eyes and took a deep breath. After the strawberry episode in the park Jim had been fighting for a repeat, but Eric still didn't want to get arrested, pants down, in the public park.

"Look," Eric said finally. "We'll put extra strawberries in the fruit salad and we'll bring a can of whipped cream on the side. It will be our little inside joke and we can have a laugh when everybody eats it."

"And we can save some for later at home?" Jim asked with a pout.

Eric laughed. "I'll make real chocolate syrup to go with our strawberries when we get home."

"Okay," Jim agreed with a put-upon sigh that was more acting than real ire. Chocolate in bed was a motivating promise for Jim.

"I hope you have your bathing suit, Jim," Nate, Jim's older brother said when Jim and Eric finally made it past the hellos in the house and out to the back yard. "Stephie's been hoping to go swimming with you once she heard you were actually coming."

Jim laughed. "Don't worry, Nate, I've got my suit. Just let me finish saying hi to everyone and I'll go get changed. Have you seen Tommy?"

Eric let Jim chat with his older brother as he moved away to place their fruit salad and whipped cream onto the buffet table. Tommy's very pregnant wife Jenna waylaid him for a while. Once Jenna headed out of the sun, Eric stayed sitting poolside to watch Stephie and her siblings and cousins splash in the pool, before realizing that Jim had been gone for far too long. It didn't take fifteen minutes to change into a bathing suit.

Eric was searching for Jim inside the house when the door to Jim's childhood bedroom opened and the man in question stepped out. Eric was quick to grab Jim and force the man back into the room.

"No," Eric said flatly. "Absolutely not."

"But Eric," Jim whined.

"I don't care how upset you are that I made you come here instead of the park. You are not going outside like that."

Jim pouted, but Eric was practiced at ignoring his lover when Jim got into these sorts of moods.

"Get changed into a real suit and wash that mess off. Your niece is waiting for you," Eric said sharply. He pointed to the small bag that he knew contained a real bathing suit and kept his arms crossed while Jim grumbled his way through changing.

Once Jim was adequately dressed, Eric sent his lover outside. He sagged against the wall out of Jim's sight and started laughing.

Jim had been wearing a thong—a pouch thong a size too small that left very little to the imagination. Eric didn't want to know where Jim had found one decorated in a fireworks design or why Jim had decided to draw hair and a six-pack onto his chest and stomach with a make-up pencil. Jim was just special like that sometimes. At least it wasn't handcuffs…

Eric straightened his back and glanced wryly down at the tent in his jeans. Jim in a thong, plus chocolate sauce and strawberries—the idea had merit.

Eric very carefully packed away the thong for later.